Sometimes, surviving The Holocaust required a split-second decision in which one did not know the outcome of that decision.
The Light after the War: A Novel, was published last month. Best friends Vera and Edith survived by jumping from a cattle car headed toward Auschwitz. They spent the rest of the war hiding in a farm. Once peace is declared, both Vera and Edith know that their futures are not in Eastern Europe. They start their new lives in Naples, where Vera gets a job working for an American army officer.
Life becomes complicated when Vera falls for her employer and he for her. They are set to begin a new life as husband and wife, but then the officer disappears. So begins the multiple twists and turns that will take these women across the globe several times and expand their worlds in ways that neither had previously considered.
At the core of this book is a friendship that remains strong under circumstances that would break most friendships. As Vera and Ellen fall in love, go into the work world and expand their horizons, they continue to rely on each other. That is what makes this book great and kept me hanging on to the last page.
Published last fall, her journey started when she happened upon a flier advertising a Basic Judaism class. That class started her on a journey to rediscover her faith and the beautiful complexity that is Judaism.
This book is absolutely brilliant. I loved it because it spoke to me. My experience with Judaism is similar to the author’s experience. Her book reminded me that my faith, like any faith is not monolithic. It is full of different voices and different perspectives that are just as relevant today as they were in previous generations.
Her first stop in a bid to escape the horrors of the Holocaust was Paris. When Paris was no longer safe, Frenkel made her through Southern France with the help of brave strangers. She knows that survival depends on getting out of Nazi occupied Europe, but it won’t be easy, given the increased brutality by the Nazis.
As any regular reader of this blog knows, I’ve read quite a few Holocaust books, both fiction and non-fiction over the years. As the years pass by and the survivors begin to leave this world, it becomes ever more important to hear the stories of the Holocaust first hand. Unfortunately, this book is not the best Holocaust book I’ve ever read.
“I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.”
The new adaptation of Emma. was released into theaters this weekend. Stepping in the shoes of Highbury’s queen bee is Anya Taylor-Joy. Unlike Austen’s other heroines, Emma is not hard up for cash and is not looking for a husband. She spends her days tending to her hypochondriac father, Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy) and arguing with her neighbor and long time friend, George Knightley (Johnny Flynn).
She also thinks that she is a matchmaker. When one of her matches lead to a successful marriage, Emma starts to believe that she has the magic touch when it comes to marriage and romance. She will soon find out how wrong she is.
I loved this adaptation. Director Autumn de Wilde adds delicious looking pops of color while screenwriter Eleanor Catton kept as close to Austen cannon as she could have gotten. It is a joyful, hilarious and absolutely wonderful film.
In our world and our culture, the idea of young love is put on a pedestal, especially when it is enveloped in the idea of class or political warfare. The question is, can this young love overcome the challenges?
The book is set in two periods: Iran in the early 1950’s and New England in 2013. In the early 1950’s Iran is torn between the past and the present, between democracy and a religious autocracy. In this world our lovers, Roya and Bahman meet for the first time. They are young, passionate and eager to begin their lives as a married couple. But on the day that they are to say their vows, Bahman disappears.
When it becomes obvious that Bahman is not coming back, Roya moves to America and a new life. Decades later, a twist of fate brings Bahman and Roya back together. After sixty years, she still is still asking why he abandoned her.
I know that it’s only February, but this is one of the best books of the year. Using a narrative baseline of Romeo and Juliet and mixing in Iranian history with class politics, the author is able to weave together a story of young love that stands the test of time.
Among certain people, the idea of a proper female is slim, conventionally attractive and compliant.
Lindy West is none of those things. She is also brilliant and not afraid to call out the b*llshit when she sees it.
In her 2016 book, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, West lays it all on the line. She rubs some people the wrong way just for being herself. She is not a size 2, outspoken and unlike many people, says what we all are thinking.
I loved this book and I loved how authentic she is. When confronted by jokes or comments that are distasteful or rude, most of us adhere to the rules of politeness that we learned as children. But not Lindy West.
That is why I loved this book and I absolutely recommend it.
We all know that for most of human history, women have been at best second class citizens and at worst, property. When it comes to sexual assault and rape, the complaints, if they have been made public have not be received and responded to as they should have.
Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World is a new compilation of essays edited by Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman. In their own words, each writer answers the following question: what if we not only we believed women, we took their claims of rape and sexual assault seriously?
The best thing about this book is the variety of writers. Each writer brings his or her own experience into the essay, answering the question in a way that is both personal and profound. By attaching a human face and a unique story to these very difficult topics, these writers are helping to break down the barriers and start a conversation that should have started a long time ago.
Going into great detail, she uses historical documents, first hand accounts and press clippings to tell the stories of the massacres and the innocent lives lost.
When I finally finished the book, I noticed several things.
Though the details of each massacre are different, the overall story is the same.
The targeted group is a minority who has historically dealt with persecution.
There were individuals within the United States who were ready, willing and eager to save as many lives as they can.
However, the collective reaction from those in the halls of power range from cold indifference to talking about saving lives, but not actually doing anything to save said lives.
I’ve always believed in the greatness of the United States. More than a century ago, this nation welcomed my forebears and allowed them to flourish. But I ‘m also completely aware of this nation’s flaws.
We can do better, we must do better. While we cannot go back and prevent the loss of innocent life, we can learn from our past. Otherwise, we will repeat it at some point.
This book is brilliant and a must read for anyone, regardless of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. It throws off the old ideas of about women and the misconceptions of our sexuality. By throwing off these ideas, it forces readers to take a hard look at how women’s sexuality is viewed and what must be done so rape and sexual assault becomes a thing of the past.
The relationship between sisters is both sacred and complicated. In the world of literature, the relationship between Meg and Jo March from Louisa May Alcott‘s classic novel Little Women is equally sacred and complicated.
Meg and Jo is a new novel by Virginia Kantra. Published at the end of last year, the book is a modern reboot of Little Women with Meg and Jo March at the center of the novel.
Meg Brooke (nee March) is a wife and mother who has put her career on hold to stay at home with her adorable and rambunctious toddlers. But while her focus is her children, she has an itch to return to work. She is also dealing with a marriage that maybe on shaky ground.
While Meg is doing to marriage and motherhood track in their hometown, Jo is living in New York City. After being downsized from her newspaper job, she is working as a prep cook while secretly blogging as a food writer on the side.
When their mother gets sick, all four March sisters return home and along the way, figure out what is important in life.
I’ve been a fan of Little Women for more than a quarter of a century. If there ever was a modern reboot of this beloved novel, this book is it. It has enough of the original novel to please Alcott fans while not relying on the all too easy 19th century novel to 21st century novel transition.